SA: A Truth Commission for journalism education?

Over 10 years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission convened hearings into the role of the media in relation to the gross violation of human rights that happened under apartheid. But one sector that seemed to escape the TRC's attention was that of higher education, except for a section in its final report titled "Complicity of the medical schools". And although the hearings and final report had harsh words to say about the media, there was silence on South Africa's journalism schools, comments Professor Guy Berger, head of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, in the Mail & Guardian's Thought Leader.

Two recent events have brought that omission to mind:

* First, the Rhodes University leadership last month apologised for shameful actions, and inactions, on the part of the campus during apartheid, while also acknowledging that some staff and students had fought against the system. Left uninterrogated, however, was the historical performance with regard to individual departments and therefore whether there are any lessons for actors at that level.
* Second, Stellenbosch University's Department of Journalism last week celebrated its 30th anniversary by convening an alumni reunion and a conference titled, significantly, "Journalism in Africa", to mark its 30th anniversary. Again, historical performance at departmental level was left undisturbed.

The omissions involved in these events brought further to mind an intervention I attempted in 2004, which tried to engage with the specifics of university and departmental performance at Rhodes University and its School of Journalism and Media Studies where I now work, Berger continues in the Mail & Guardian's Thought Leader.

My argument was outlined in a paper titled "The view in the rear-mirror does not give much guidance", presented at a so-called Critical Tradition Colloquium to mark Rhodes' centenary. The paper elicited outrage amongst a number of colleagues. Saying that they feared they would foster divisiveness by publishing it (even in more nuanced form), the editors of the proceedings decided to exclude the intervention from their compilation.
Full commentary on the Thought Leader site